Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 16 The Art Of Listening

Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here or in my Diaries at Firedoglake/MyFDL.

I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 16

The Art of Listening

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Co-Founder of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program said,

A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.

My best friend committed suicide 30 years ago and I am still haunted by questions and doubts. We lived in different cities about 300 miles apart and communicated on a hit and miss basis with longer and longer periods stretching out between hits. I had not seen him for six months when the phone rang. His wife told me what happened. He did not leave a note. To this day, I do not know why he killed himself, how long he thought about it before he did it, or whether I could have made a difference if he had confided in me.

I am consciously trying to live the Golden Rule today, and speaking from that perspective, I think all of us need to stop and think for a while about our obligations to others that flow from the rule. Take responsibility for being your brother’s and sister’s keeper. You cannot live their lives for them and you should not even try, but you can stay in touch and provoke communication that at the level of the soul.

Consider refining your listening skills and encourage others to talk. For example, set aside at least 30 uninterrupted minutes to listen to another person tell you what they fear most, or choose another equally serious topic that requires self-reflection and a willingness to open up and expose vulnerability.

Find a quiet place without distractions and sit close together facing each other. As touch reassures, reach out and hold their hand. Men may find this awkward at first. Persist, however, and you will be rewarded. Listen to what they say without passing judgment and observe their body language. Focus all of your attention on them. Ask simple questions as needed to keep them talking. Do not interrogate and do not share what they tell you with other people. Confidentiality builds trust. Be genuine and express unconditional love.

Reverse the process after the person has finished. This time you will do the talking and they will do the listening. The goal is to speak honestly from the heart; to communicate rather than impress or seek acceptance.

Each of you will establish an intimate connection with the other that will never be forgotten.

We connect with others when we listen and come to know them by their hopes and fears.

Fear of exposing your vulnerability to others inhibits communication and can lead to demonizing and throwing stones. Become a better person by earnestly practicing the art of listening.

Be kind to each other and all living things.

Cross-Posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL and the Smirking Chimp.

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I haul scrap for a living in this insane land.




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